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New and would like advice

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I'm from North Carolina. I'm 22 years old. I've only really been on one real hike in my life and it was a senior class trip in high school. I have decided to make a goal of hiking the Appalachian Trail. I want to do a through hike from GA to Maine. I know it takes time and I'm no where near ready for something like that. 

So i guess my question is where do i start? I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos about bushcrafting and different hikers on their journey. Maybe someone could suggest a trail to start on? Or books to read. 

I mean how did  everybody start? 

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It's not a trail guide or how to book, but I recommend Bill Bryson's "A Walk In the Woods".  There's a movie based on the book coming out, but I recommend the book.

For a trail guide, Backpacker Magazine published "Trekking the Southern Appalachians". It covers 25 treks in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Georgia. It has a short but good introduction on trekking, and detailed info about the treks.  There might be books that cover the northern and mid-Atlantic states.

Is there an REI or outdoor store where you live. If you're not familiar with REI, check out their site: www.rei.com.  Check out the "Learn" section.  I'd steer clear of big box sporting goods stores like Dick's.

I'm new on this site, but there seems to be a lot of experienced and knowledgeable people.

Best wishes for your journey!


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Keep researching and asking questions. There is a ton of great web sites and forums out there, including this one. Start slow don't just buy some piece of gear because you read someone was using it. The gear and the trail have to fit your desires and abilities. Start with some long day hikes. Then a few overnighters. Tune your gear after that. And then try a few 3 or 4 day trips. And if you feel your ready and comfortable and you know your limitations... get walking!

Look to the right on this page and you see 6 web sites that have good stuff. There's probably 50 more though. Outdoor sites like this one and others also have used gear for sale. It can get pretty overwhelming at times but it sure is Fun!

Start with the basics...

Trail shoes, Shelter, Backpack and Sleeping bag and pad.

Oh yeah... and keep an eye on the weight of the gear you accumulate. It's a lot easier climbing up mountains with a 30 lb pack vs a 60 lb pack.




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  • 2 weeks later...

Start by hiking! I would do an online search for hiking trails. You can read everything available but the best way to learn about hiking is by hiking. Is there an REI nearby? Many of their stores rent backpacking gear.

There is a website called Whiteblaze that is all about hiking the AT. It is a very active board with many knowledgeable hikers posting frequently.


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I would not recommend a long distance trail like the AT for your first. Most people never make it because they are simply not prepared or don't have the endurance.  Start with day hikes.  Hike in state or national parks near you.  Then try an overnight or weekend trip. Join an outdoor or hiking club.  Websites can only help so much. Getting out there and doing it and having some actual human interaction will get you much further.  I once met a guy who had read every book and bought thousands of dollars of gear, but couldn't make it on a 8 mile day hike with a bunch of old ladies. Lol.  Do some hiking.  Get out there. Don't let the old ladies like me out do you. 

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